The Transportation Security Administration announced Friday that it will increase the maximum penalty for a firearms violation after officers intercepted a record number of guns at airport security checkpoints in 2022.
TSA officers confiscated 6,301 firearms, more than 88% of which were loaded.
That number surpassed the previous record of 5,072, set in 2021, and the agency said it anticipates confiscating 300 more weapons in carry-on bags by the end of the year.
In response, the TSA said it will increase the maximum penalty for firearms violations to $14,950 in an effort to discourage passengers from bringing guns to airports.
TSA Administrator David Pekoske said he “applauds” the work of TSA officers who prevented firearms from passing checkpoints.
“Firearms are prohibited in carry-on bags at the checkpoint and onboard aircraft. When a passenger brings a firearm to the checkpoint, this consumes significant security resources and poses a potential threat to transportation security, in addition to being very costly for the passenger,” Pekoske said in the statement.
In 2020, air travel declined by 60% because of COVID-19, according to a release by the Government Accountability Office. As COVID restrictions loosened, more people returned to airports. In 2022, the number of air passengers increased to near-prepandemic levels, according to data released by the TSA.